Once Again, Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design

Earlier this week on their web site, Scientific American posted the article, “Evolving Creationism in the Classroom”  complete with links to earlier articles and a state by state map of the “creationism controversy”.  The article, in my estimation, didn’t have anything new to say other than to note Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s comments concerning creationism and evolution in schools. Even thought this particular article didn’t substantively advance the discussion, it is still a hot topic as evidenced by the 87 on line responses in two days.


I’ll confess, when I saw this article and the associated links, all I could do was sigh and think, “Here we go again”. Are we doomed to endlessly rehash the same arguments or is there some way we can resolve this and move on?

To call this a science and religion conflict is to miss the main sticking point. Really the conflict is between science and a particular reading of the Bible and not all of religion. Not even all of Christianity.  It’s time for Christians of various viewpoints to talk amongst ourselves. We should be talking (not arguing) but talking seriously about the Bible. What does it mean when we say the Bible is God’s Word? What do we mean by the “authority of Scripture”? Is there more than one legitimate interpretation of a Biblical passage? How do we manage differences of belief?

Christianity is not well served when BIblical interpretation devolves into the false choice of Biblical literalism or the abandonment of Scripture. The Christian tradition has long held that there is more than one way to interpret different parts of the Bible. It is tragic when the richness of the tradition is ignored and people are pushed into the false choice between literalism and abandoning their faith.

There is of course a larger worldview question in the science and religion debate. That is the worldview of what has been termed “scientism” versus the worldview  of theism. This also is an important discussion for us to have. All too often there is confusion about the project of science as a method for understanding the physical world and the philosophical position of scientism. It is easy to slip from science into philosophy. It’s a good idea to consider the philosophical and ethical implications of science. We need to have those discussions. Let’s just be clear and intentional about what we are doing and not mislabel philosophy and ethics as science.

The important worldview discussion is not well served when it devolves into a creation, ID, evolution debate. There is much more to it than that. There are many more ways each of these worldviews shapes our society, some we recognize and some we don’t. Stepping back to consider the big picture might help us achieve some clarity about what’s going on in the evolution/creation/ID debates.

As I think about this Scientific American article, I wonder, what did Scientific American hope to accomplish with this piece?  It certainly isn’t about science. Does it move us toward clarity? Does it help us understand the worldview and the reasoning of those with whom we disagree?  I am of course assuming that people on both sides of this issue sincerely want to resolve it. I could very well be mistaken. Just because I don’t like to argue endlessly doesn’t mean others don’t.

I’d like to know, what do you think?

5 thoughts on “Once Again, Evolution, Creationism, Intelligent Design

  1. I agree that Christians need to take a step back and reflect. I am personally a Christian and have no problems with accepting evolution. Evidence says that’s how things develop and I say that behind all that crazy sophisticated seemingly random micro-cellular change is an Intelligent Designer. And I can’t prove that hypothesis, nor can anyone disprove it. And that’s the way I like it. Wouldn’t it just be awful if science could prove or disprove God? Think of the generations that could be lost to God for how often new evidence appears as technology develops. Generations can be on fire for Him, then generations can totally disqualify Him, then repeat cycle. That would be horrendous. 😦

  2. If the same person who authored the Bible also created the universe (and so the earth), then nature (which science only studies) and the Bible will not conflict.

    Here’s a sample of the kind of Bible studies I do:

    (Genesis) Adam/man (Hebrew-synonyms) = ‘ruddy’, rosy, the flush of red blood

    ‘man became a ‘living soul’ ‘ (Genesis 2:7):
    soul (Hebrew & Greek) = animal principle/breathing creature

    – does not suggest a ‘human’ being but rather a ‘ruddy’ creature (as coming from the ‘red’ earth-dust/ground-primordial soup)

    According to my studies of the writings, Adam/man was not initially a human being as many believe but rather a ‘ruddy creature of earth’, an animal (which must have been a chimpanzee; somewhere along the line human beings caught the chimp gene because of recent human genome DNA mapping).

    Religious tendencies are observed strictly in the ‘human’ species. If human beings are in part ‘soul (primate/mammal)’ then why aren’t such tendencies evident in primates? Could it be because we have something that primates don’t have?

    animal = soul
    human being = soul + spirit

    soul = mortal (of earth)
    spirit = immortal (otherworldly, aura, transcendent, supernatural = God’s image)

    Prior to being put into the garden, ruddy did not have ‘spiritual’ ability, he only gained that after he entered the garden; ‘…and the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had made.’ (Gen. 2:8)

    It was the gaining of this other element that enabled one primate to change from ‘animal’ to human, and unless he had gained this other element, he could not have changed – thus the reason we don’t
    see other primates in various stages of change.

    Disagreements exist between evolution-science and ‘religion’ but there is no contradition between ‘the Bible’ and ‘evolution’.

  3. Its a shame when a Creationists views are thrust forward strongly as this prevents some more rational thinking people from entering True Faith.
    The Bible is not a science book any more than a science book can teach a child not to swear!

  4. This is not a debate about science, religion, truth or even the Bible, at least from the conservative side. It’s all about control. The far right has backed itself into an improbable corner, from which there is no way out without some major readjustment of their thinking. But fundamentalism allows for no such adjustment; much like the old magisterium, they have the truth absolutely, and those who disagree with them, or raise questions, are absolutely wrong. Such “fundamentalism” is found on both sides of the questions, obviously, but the far right is by far in the deepest trouble intellectually and spiritually. They have committed themselves to views for which there are no options, and now, some 30 or 40 years into their drive for mastery of the culture, their schools and churches have become closed loops of dogma, reinforcing their culture like boiling sap until it’s syrup. I’m not hopeful about conversation.

  5. What I’ve always found hard to get my head around is how a certain brand of Christianity seems to argue that a theology of what is sometimes called “theistic evolution” is somehow WORSE than believing in the regular version (which is often criticized because it posits the created world as random and lacking order. At least theistic evolution doesn’t have that problem!).

    Slightly off-topic, but perhaps relevant to this discussion: Your use of the fishes above reminded me of a parody of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” I wrote some time ago. In one section, I comment on the “Fish Wars.” Here’s a link to that part: http://transformingseminarian.blogspot.com/2006/02/hitchhikers-guide-to-christianity-part_08.html

    (The whole thing can be found fairly easily by clicking the “parody” label on the right sidebar)

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